COVID-19 came and turned everyone's world upside down. It's shown no mercy and has negatively impacted many people via illness, job loss, business closures, and even death. With the amount of layoffs, furloughs, and business closures, unemployment claims have now hit over 25 million. Even though it may seem like this is not the best time to enter the job market, many have been forced to. Entering the job market is tough even with the absence of a global pandemic. Therefore, landing a new job during COVID-19 may seem impossible, but here's how you can increase your chances of making it to the top of a recruiters "request to interview " list.
"98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the “top 2%” of candidates make it to the interview." - Robert Meier, Job Market Experts
Becoming one of those top 2% candidates takes having a killer resume and cover letter, the ability to articulate how you can solve the company's problem, and a few other things. But most importantly, it takes connection. In order to increase your hiring chances during COVID-19, you have to network and build genuine connections on the basis of transparency, within digital spaces.
"The most effective way to apply for jobs, is directly to the hiring manager. Out of all candidates who apply this way, 19% lands the job. And yet, only 0.14% of candidates try to submit their resumes directly to the internal hiring manager." - Jobvite 2019 Benchmark Report
Digital platform usage has increased tremendously since the struck of Coronavirus. Recruiters and hiring managers are spending more time in digital spaces looking for top talent, and are even encouraging job seekers to message them directly about open positions, seeing as though virtual sourcing has become their only option.
Now is the time to create that LinkedIn profile you've been putting off and getting active on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook Jobs, and other job boards. Having a strong LinkedIn presence is critical to your job search. Focus heavily on optimizing your headline, job titles, and skills to start, as those sections have the most impact on LinkedIn's search algorithm. Your headline should be jam packed with rich keywords that recruiter's would be searching for and interested in. It should at minimum have the job title for roles you are going for. That means, "seeking new opportunities" should not be in your headline. No recruiter is entering that in their job title search filters.
Once you've optimized the basics of your profile, introduce yourself to people working at companies you're interested in, connect with recruiters at companies that are still hiring, and be sure to follow LinkedIn's newest and trendiest hashtag #coronavirushiring and see whose hiring via Candor.
Recruiters and hiring managers are open to connecting and are encouraging job seekers to message them about opportunities they're interested in. Use this time to go beyond the everyday networking and connect on a deeper level with recruiters and hiring managers. Share snippets with them on how you're holding up, how you're adjusting to this new normal, and how this experience has increased your resiliency and ability to positively deal with change. Don't miss out on building a genuine connection with another human by dismissing the impact COVID-19 has had on you.
"Don't miss out on building a genuine connection with another human by dismissing the impact COVID-19 has had on you. Share snippets with them on how you're holding up, how you're adjusting to this new normal, and how this experience has increased your resiliency and ability to positively deal with change."
Traditionally, some resume writers and recruiters encourage job applicants to camouflage their employment gaps because they can be red flags. However, studies show that applicants that disclose a reason behind their gap have a higher chance of being called for an interview. During COVID-19, being transparent about being laid off, furloughed, taking time to take care of loved ones, etc. due to Coronavirus can replace the transactional feel of an interview with a more comfortable, conversational feel.
When addressing an employment gap on your resume and cover letter, it's also okay to get a little creative. I heard of a resume that listed "COVID-19 Forced Sabbatical" as their present employer. Imagine this:
COVID-19 Forced Sabbatical, USA (April 2020 - Present)
Social Distance Specialist
Project Management LinkedIn Learning Course Completion in 24 hours.
Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and Mailchimp Marketing Certification in 3 days.
This may seem silly, but the lightheartedness and honesty grabbed the recruiter's attention. Recruiters and hiring managers are more sensitive and understanding when it comes to employment gaps due to a global pandemic and are taking a priority look at those impacted. They're expecting you to be honest and transparent about your employment status.
During this time of uncertainty, shift your job search strategy from simply applying for a role to making genuine, virtual connections with those in need of your skill-sets.